Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Oh, You Heard What Happened to Her, Right? She Got Bored"

Boredom has been a theme in my life lately. My boredom and that of others. Others that I know and others I have been told about. It's not that my life is particularly more boring now than it ever has been, but that people feel more inquisitive of the level of my boredom, its existence and their anecdotal reassurances that I am not alone.

Up to this point in my adult life I have almost always had full-time jobs. If not one full-timer then a couple part-timers to mish-mash together my life and standard of living. I remember one job where I felt so bored that I would be physically exhausted by my boredom at 8:00 am. That's difficult--physically exhausting boredom is a cross to bear. And I know many an adult that does bear it in a small cubicle with a computer monitor and a caffeine high and an illegal eBay window looming behind their workity work.

Now my boredom involves another small human. An incredibly cute human with a budding personality and babbling speech patterns to boot. A little soul. A new life. A little soul that requires the same things over and over again throughout the day, throughout the days, throughout the months. Admittedly, it can be boring. It can feel futile. But is it boring in the same way that after lunch meetings in a small windowless room with stale air and lame agendas are boring? No. Is it boring the in the same way that pages upon pages of meaningless data entry with your local easy listening music station playing in the background is boring? No. Is it boring the same way that disciplining someone's ill-mannered, farts-in-class, pompous, seventeen-year old "young adult" who never does their homework is boring. Resounding no.

The thing I've come to realize lately is that everyone loves a story. Everyone loves a good story, but everyone especially loves their own stories. If these stories bear the slightest resemblance to your life they want you to hear it. I don't take their my-wife-was-bored-staying-home-so-she-went-back-to-work or their I-was-bored-staying-home-so-I-went-back-to-work stories personally. I think deep down they think that staying home is a sacrifice to the Golden Calf of Boredom and it's a worthwhile sacrifice. And that's nice. I've had a number of people eavesdrop on me and others similarly shackled while we talk in public of our domestic lives only to interrupt us to say, "I think you've made the right choice" or "Great job!" You have no idea how encouraging it is.

When it comes down to it, I recognize that staying home is a sacrifice. My husband cannot order take-out pizza as frequently as he would like. He cannot purchase as many books as he would like. All kidding aside, you also have the other end of the spectrum. Do people ever describe returning to work as a sacrifice? Because it is. There is so much time to be spent with one's child. There is so very much empty, boring time. The thing I remind myself when I am tired of making grilled cheese, cutting grapes into eighths, filling sippy cups and nursing is that I have chosen to be home because it is good for us. It is good for all of US. It is good to have people home taking care of their loved ones. It is good to have neighborhood homes inhabited in the middle of the day. It is good for others to see children being pushed in strollers by their mothers. And I know this because when I used to drive to work it made me feel good to see others doing the same.

I do get bored. But I know it is all the moments of boring that I will look back on and cherish. Not to mention the fact that: hello? Hobbies? Doesn't anyone have them anymore? Don't we recreate? Don't we garden or read or make things or cook things for fun anymore? Martha Stewart built a huge empire out of domestic arts. That says something.